Pre-tourney favorite Missoula Hellgate broke away from a tie in the second half to turn back the challenge of Billings Skyview 65-56 Thursday in the first round of the state Class AA high school boys’ basketball tournament in the Butte Civic Center.
A key 8-0 Hellgate run midway through the fourth quarter opened up the Knights’ lead and they kept expanding it. Rollie Worster made four straight free throws to start the run. Skyview’s Zach Schacht was called for an intentional foul, then teammate Sam Tranel was whistled for a technical. After Worster netted the foul shots, Hellgate retained possession of the ball and Abe Johnson scored a basket. Then, Dylan Holst capped the run with a fast-break basket off a turnover on Skyview’s end.
Worster, a University of Montana commit, wound up with 32 points and eight rebounds. The 6-foot-8 Johnson had 12 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks. Both Worster and Johnson are juniors.
Skyview played hard in the high-intensity game and had the Knights deadlocked 25-all at halftime. The Falcons led much of the early going. Scoring leaders for the team were Daniel Davis with 15 points, Cam Ketchum with 12 and Julius Mims with 11. The 6-10 Schacht, a senior headed for Montana Western to play basketball, collected 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
The win put Hellgate at 20-1 for the season and kept the Knights undefeated against Montana opposition. The Knights lost a non-conference game to Coeur d’Alene High School of Idaho in December. Hellgate will play the 5 p.m. semifinal game on Friday versus Great Falls High.
Skyview, now 11-11, will go against Missoula Sentinel in a 10:30 loser-out game.
— Bruce Sayler, buttesports.com